zen

The same cosmic forces that mold galaxies, stars, and atoms ...

“The same cosmic forces that mold galaxies, stars, and atoms also mold each moment of self and world. The inner self and outer self are born in the cleft between expansion and contraction. By giving yourself to those forces, you become those forces, and through that you experience a kind of immortality — you live in the breath and pulse of every animal, in the polarization of electrons and protons, in the interplay of the thermal expansion and self-gravity that molds stars, in the interplay of dark matter that holds galaxies together and dark energy that stretches space apart.”

~ Part of a quote from The Science of Enlightenment, How Meditation Works, by Shinzen Young

“Life is like a dream”

When you hear mindfulness people say something like, “Life is like a dream,” one thing they mean is that more than 99.99% of the stuff going on in our minds are thoughts about the past and the future. (Past happiness or regrets, and future hopes and concerns.) Because the only thing that’s real in the present moment is what’s actually happening in *only this moment*, anything that’s outside of this moment is in a strict sense no longer real.

Along this line of thinking I like Eckhart Tolle’s two quotes, “The present moment is all you ever have” — you know that to be true for sure if you’ve ever lost consciousness, not knowing if you’d ever open your eyes again — and, “The whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor’s edge of Now.”

Your true self

I usually just encourage people to meditate so they can learn to relax, but there’s another good reason to meditate: It helps you find out who you are. Since you were born, you’ve been programmed by your parents, siblings, other relatives, friends, and teachers; meditation is a way undoing all of that programming. Once you shed that programming, what remains is your true self.

Zen koan: It would be better if you died

Zen koans often turn into humorous Abbott & Costello skits. For those new to Zen, the “It would be better if you died” reference just means that you should meditate like you’re in your coffin, which is further embodied in the Zen phrase, “Dead men have no desire.” (As long as you have desire, Zen will keep its distance from you.)

~ From the book, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

“They are the eyes and ears of karma. And that’s the problem.” alvin January 31, 2018 - 11:37am

“Some people say, ‘Listen, listen!’ And they talk. I say nothing, it’s better. People’s opinions are the product of their karma. ‘I saw it with my own eyes, I heard it with my own ears.’ But those eyes and ears are not a reliable reflection of absolute truth. They are the eyes and ears of karma. And that’s the problem.”

~ The Way of Ture Zen, Taisen Deshimaru

Accepting the “just this” of a situation

When I first started learning Zen I didn’t understand the quote shown in this image, and I truly was a carpet to walk on. Then I woke up and thought, “You need to run your business. You need to find the middle way between accepting ‘just this’ and what you need to do to be successful at work.”

It would have been helpful if I had seen this quote then, but the book, Making Zen Your Own, wasn’t available then.

“Absolute stillness and silence, as if one had landed on the Moon”

“On one occasion of my own practice, nearing deep samadhi, I happened to notice that the stage of my mind was quietly turning and a new scene was appearing. In this new scene no wandering thought popped up its head; there were absolute stillness and silence, as if one had landed on the Moon.”

~ Zen Training

Understanding Zen koans in The Gateless Gate (Mumonkan) and The Blue Cliff Records

Present a sword if you meet a swordsman;
Don’t offer a poem unless you meet a poet.
When talking, tell one-third of it;
Don’t divulge the whole at once.

~ Mumon’s verse on Case 33 of the Mumonkan

One of the great things about the book, Two Zen Classics: The Gateless Gate and The Blue Cliff Records, translated by Katsuki Sekida, is that Mr. Sekida gives you information that you have no way of knowing if you’re studying Zen by yourself.